Music Tastes Good Long Beach, a ‘Mom and Pop’ Fest, Pushes On




By DAN MACINTOSH

After the success of Coachella, a whole slew of new music festivals followed in its wake. Sometimes, these day-long (and sometimes multi-day) events feature many of the same artists, only in different towns. Seeing it from that perspective, it comes off more like marketing for malls, rather than memorable musical events. 

Music Tastes Good, which held its third annual showcase on the Long Beach shore, is different, special in its own way. It felt more like a large mom and pop outlet, rather than a faceless strip mall. Perhaps Bernard Sumner of New Order, Saturday’s headliner, said it best when he mentioned from the stage how this festival has a really nice vibe.

Fans experience a wide range of musicians - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Fans experience a wide range of musicians – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Sumner could have been complementing the laidback crowd dancing to their favorite New Order songs or remembering some of the tasty treats cooked-up throughout the grounds. In addition to serving far better grub than the county fair slop too often sold at most festivals, though, this event also featured a distinctly local sonic flavor. Asi Fui, Blcknoise, Forest Of Tongue, Manuel The Band and The Fling are all Long Beach-based acts.

Of the hometown performers, Blcknoise came off best. Singer/songwriter Donovan Brown, who collaborates with guitarist Victor Ujadughele for the project, asked the crowd if they wanted a Radiohead or a White Stripes song. When the crowd shouted out The White Stripes, Blcknoise responded with a uniquely funky take on the Jack White anthem “Seven Nation Army.”

Sun Kil Moon entertained with interesting songs - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
Sun Kil Moon entertained with interesting songs – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

Much like a college radio station that only plays artists its air personalities sincerely love, Music Taste Good is a festival tastemaker with impeccable taste. Even artists on the bill you don’t recognize, you’ll like, trust me. One such amazing surprise on Sunday was LADAMA, a (mostly) all girl act with members from Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia and Los Angeles. These skilled players specialize in a wide variety of Latin styles. Even those whose Latin musical knowledge went no deeper than, say, Los Lobos and Santana could be spotted dancing, grinning ear-to-ear. 

The Church - Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia
The Church – Photo © 2018 Donna Balancia

The only criticism one could level at this year’s festival was placing both The Church and Janelle Monáe at the same start time, at opposite sides of the grounds. Granted, Monáe’s smart soul music was worlds apart from The Church’s modern take on psychedelia, both were can’t-misses. Many attendees split time between the two and missed each one’s full set. 

Just a month shy of Halloween, the SoCal weather was perfect. With all the eclectic music, yummy food and relaxed beach vibes, it was one beautiful summer festival that, technically, didn’t actually take place in the summertime.